GLENDALE, Ariz. — More is better for Lucas Giolito.
That’s the way the White Sox’ possible Opening Day starter sees it, anyway.
The 6-6 right-hander added 20 pounds to his frame in the offseason with the goal of “putting on a little more mass and having that stable body.”
And so far, so good.
“I’m feeling really good, really strong,” said Giolito, who will throw his first live batting practice Wednesday. “I’m excited for tomorrow, first time facing batters.”
Giolito, who had a 3.53 ERA in 31 starts last season, had a 2.65 ERA and 1.005 WHIP in the second half. But that didn’t stop him from getting in the weight room when he wasn’t dealing with union duty as the Sox’ player representative during the lockout.
“Kind of bolstered up my weight-lifting routine, put on some mass,” he said. “I’m already very tall, but now I have more stability, more strength. For me, especially with the last couple of years having those [hamstring issues], just having that strength and stability surrounding it so that I can feel strong and pitch to the best of my ability and maintain health throughout the season.”
The aim was to build up strength in his legs, around the hamstrings, and in his hips and “using the body more” when he’s moving down toward the plate.
“Less arm, less strain on certain areas because there’s just more strength and stability throughout,” he said.
“We’ll see. I’ve been feeling really good.”
The Sox have been linked as a potential trade partner with the Athletics for left-hander Sean Manaea and might still be on the lookout for more pitching depth.
Whether the Sox would be willing to assemble an acceptable package of prospects for such a deal remains to be seen. General manager Rick Hahn is not tipping his hand.
“That’s a Rick and Ken [Williams] question,” manager Tony La Russa said when asked if he believed his pitching staff was set. “My answer is, you take what you’ve got. I think they’ve done enough. It’s up to us now.”
Velasquez a self-described ‘freak athlete’
Right-hander Vince Velasquez, signed as a free agent to bolster the starting-pitching depth, is looking to bounce back after a rough season in which he posted a 6.30 ERA between the Phillies and Padres with 49 walks (and 101 strikeouts) over 94„ innings. The Sox are counting on pitching coach Ethan Katz to lend a new voice.
“I’ve got to do my job, and I think that’s where Katz can really bear down and help me kind of narrow out the answers,” Velasquez said.
Velasquez’s first strikeout victim in the majors was Jose Abreu when he pitched for the Astros in 2015. Playing left field in a pinch in the 14th inning of a game in Philadelphia in 2019, he also threw out Abreu at the plate after he tried to score on a single by James McCann.
“I’m just one of those freak athletes,” said Velasquez, who also can throw left-handed.